Dr Homden was speaking in the light of recent figures published by the Department for Education showing a 7% drop in the number of adoptions over the last year while the number of children in care continued to grow*. Approved adopters are now outnumbered by children awaiting adoption by more than two to one.
Speaking at a time of year when there is generally a rise in numbers of enquiries from potential adopters, Dr Homden said: “I am concerned that the plight of this vulnerable group of children has slipped off the agenda amid the political turbulence and uncertainty of the last year. There are currently over 4,000 children awaiting adoption in this country** and while they may not always be visible, we must never forget that they are there. Behind every statistic there is a real child who has suffered the distress of family separation and who desperately needs the security of a permanent, loving home.
“These children cannot wait. We can and must turn this around. As we contemplate the year ahead, we are asking for people to spend some quiet time considering whether they could offer a loving and permanent home to a child in need. Adopting a child is one of the greatest challenges that a parent will face but it is also one of the most rewarding. A child cannot truly flourish without the consistent love and unconditional acceptance of a family. Could 2020 be the year that we reverse this negative trend and improve the life chances of thousands of children?”
Coram is calling for people from all walks of life to come forward to maximise the chances of finding a match for each child. “Each child awaiting adoption is a unique individual and will come with their own personalities, experiences and needs. In much the same way, no two adoptive families are the same. Whatever your background, religion, ethnicity or family circumstances, if you can offer a loving and stable home to a child then we want to hear from you,” Dr Homden said.
“Adoption agencies like Coram work hard to prepare adopters and equip them with the necessary skills. There is also a wealth of post-adoption support services that are available to help families navigate the transition phase and the challenges beyond. You will certainly not be alone on this journey.”
Coram, which leads the Ambitious for Adoption Regional Adoption Agency covering London and the surrounding areas, sees first-hand the profound effect that a loving and stable home can have in the life of a vulnerable child. Coram adopters Rebecca and Andy adopted sisters Ellie, aged six, and Freya, aged three, who had suffered abuse by their birth family. The couple found it challenging to earn the trust of their daughters but thanks to the training and support offered by Coram, they were able to reassure their daughters and meet their needs. They have a wonderful bond with the girls who are now flourishing both at home and at school.
Rebecca is also encouraging other adopters to come forward: “Don’t feel that you won’t be able to bond with them or that their behaviour is set in stone. The benefits more than outweigh the difficult moments. Your social workers will help you through this. Our lives have changed so much but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are complete as a family and it’s amazing.”
Another Coram adopter, Sophie, attended the ‘Stop’ parenting programme run by Coram for parents of teenagers and said that it helped her to understand her son even better than some of her friends who had birth children. While the transformative effect that adoption can have on a child is well documented, the transformation that takes place within the adoptive parent may be less understood. Sophie, experienced “immense personal growth and change” after adopting her son Jordan. “I have become a much more patient and empathetic person, something that has also paid dividends in my professional life. If Jordan comes to me, I will stop whatever I am doing and listen to him – being fully present for your child is the most powerful gift you can give them.”